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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, January 22, 2016.
About this Poem 

“One day I was startled by a rabbit that moved and stopped, moved and stopped across a gravel driveway. The poem radiated from that spark.”
—Arthur Sze

First Snow

                A rabbit has stopped on the gravel driveway:

                           imbibing the silence,
                           you stare at spruce needles:

                                                  there’s no sound of a leaf blower,
                                                  no sign of a black bear;

                a few weeks ago, a buck scraped his rack
                           against an aspen trunk;
                           a carpenter scribed a plank along a curved stone                                                   wall.                    

                                       You only spot the rabbit’s ears and tail:

                when it moves, you locate it against speckled gravel,
                but when it stops, it blends in again;

                           the world of being is like this gravel:

                                      you think you own a car, a house,
                                      this blue-zigzagged shirt, but you just borrow                                                   these things.                    

                Yesterday, you constructed an aqueduct of dreams
                                      and stood at Gibraltar,

                                                             but you possess nothing.

                Snow melts into a pool of clear water;
                           and, in this stillness,

                                       starlight behind daylight wherever you gaze.
 

Copyright © 2016 by Arthur Sze. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2016 by Arthur Sze. Used with permission of the author.

Arthur Sze

Arthur Sze

Born in New York City in 1950, Arthur Sze is the author of nine books of poetry, including Compass Rose (Copper Canyon Press, 2014). He currently serves as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

by this poet

poem
Slanting light casts onto a stucco wall
the shadows of upwardly zigzagging plum branches.

I can see the thinning of branches to the very twig.
I have to sift what you say, what she thinks,

what he believes is genetic strength, what
they agree is inevitable. I have to sift this

quirky and lashing stillness of
poem
The tide ebbs and reveals orange and purple sea stars. 
I have no theory of radiance, 

                but after rain evaporates 
off pine needles, the needles glisten. 

In the courtyard, we spot the rising shell of a moon,
and, at the equinox, bathe in its gleam. 

Using all the tides of starlight
poem

Burglars enter an apartment and ransack drawers;
finding neither gold nor cash, they flee,

leaving the laundry and bathroom lights on—
they have fled themselves. I catch the dipping

pitch of a motorcycle, iceberg hues in clouds;
the gravel courtyard's a midnight garden,

as in Japan

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